Friday, January 8, 2010

Jim Mathis School of Photography - Teaching Wrongs about Rights

It appears that Jim Mathis is teaching really bad business management skills if the message he is delivering to his students is that the price for an image should be the same whether it's a family down the street, or a multi-national corporation looking to use the image as the icon of its business for years.

In response to my November interview in Photo District News about establishing your pricing, Mathis wrote in here and suggested that his studios' establishment in 1973 and immediate price list publication somehow gives him some air of authority, when he says of me "His is the type of attitude I have been fighting for years." Really? Really! Really?

(Continued after the Jump)

Wrong-way Mathis then suggests that my methodology is that of "sizing up the ''schmuck' and charging whatever we think they will pay..." and the only thing more wrong than that opinion is how he uses a portrait of himself with a Nikon F in his article about "digital resolution", where he incorrectly states "In reality, a five-meg, or 5 million pixel camera, is about equal to 35mm film in resolution." No, Jim, that's impossible. The actual megapixel comparison is closer to 21 megapixels.

Fortunately for all, Mathis seems to be standing alone. PDN sought out two industry leaders for their thoughts. Susan Carr, past ASMP National President and current Education Director, wrote here "Pricing photography assignments cannot fit into a one-size-fits-all hourly or day rate system." Carr then goes on to provide several other worthwhile insights on this subject. Next PDN presents the learned thoughts of Jeff Sedlik, former National President of the Advertising Photographers of America, here. Sedlik suggests that some photographers "opt to spend their careers emulating plumbers". I suggest that Mathis has much to learn about his own business. Yes, being paid by the hour regardless of client type is really a day-laborer mindset best left for the picking fields.

Mathis touts his membership in the "International Photography Hall of Fame", on his website here and I submit that he should be the poster child for the International Hall of Photographic Shame for his really really bad photography advice.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Paul Melcher said...

and he is allowed to teach ? There should be some organization that regulate who can and cannot offer photography classes.

MarcWPhoto said...

While I understand the value of a good vent, don't try to engage in argument with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.

Doug said...


Glad you responded to this. I read the story when it first came out and was incensed. He says he charges national advertising clients the same as mom and dad for a family portrait, if I recall correctly. Frustrating to say the least.

Anonymous said...

If you look at his own portraits and what camera he is holding, you should know he loves hot rods and he should be still driving one to work. How can you expect he is using a 5D Mk2, D3X, or A900? How can he find the difference between 21Mp vs 5Mp? If anyone really goes to his class, I don't think they really know they got robbed.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with your post. I was a little disturbed when I saw his advice on PDN. He has no clue.

Anonymous said...

A quick look at his website confirms it to be amateur-hour. You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

He says "I've been fighting this attitude since 1973" How did you guys let him fly under the radar for so long. You have been wasting time on Fish that would have been better spent here :)

Eliza said...

I just visited the Hall of Fame website and it appears he is a member ( that's a paid gig, anyone can join) rather than an inductee.
Jay Reiter

Andre Friedmann said...

Jim Mathis's business model is still common, selling unlimited licensing based on production time.

Newer Post Older Post